How do I know if a school accepts the SAO?
To find out whether a school participates in the SAO, use the school search, selecting the "Accepts Standard Application Online" filter. The results will only show schools that accept the SAO. In addition, you can search for a school by name using your account’s “Apply to Schools" feature. The search results will reflect whether the school accepts the SAO.
When does the school receive an application through the SAO?
As a best practice, we recommend that you first complete your student profile and submit it to a school along with the application fee. As soon as you do that, the school will receive and begin tracking your application via their SAO system. Any components and forms completed after this initial submission will be delivered to the school in real time.
What are the system requirements to use the SAO?
PC (Windows version 7,8,10)
- Chrome: We recommend at least version 51,52
- Firefox: We recommend at least version 47,48
- Microsoft Internet Explorer: Version 11
- Safari: Version 8,9
- Chrome: We recommend at least version 51,52
- Firefox: We recommend at least version 47,48
- Cookies must be enabled.
To view and print PDF files, we recommend Adobe Acrobat Reader (latest version). While PDF files should work with most other PDF viewers, we can only guarantee full compatibility and support with Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Can I use the SAO to apply for multiple years?
What if a school that I am applying to doesn't accept the SAO, while others do?
Though close to 500 independent schools in the U.S. and Canada accept the SAO, you might find a school you are interested in that does not. In that case, you must submit a traditional application to that school. We recommend that you visit the school’s website to understand their unique application process. Please note that certain components of the SAO application, like the Student Profile, Student Essays, and Parent Statement, once submitted through the SAO, are available in PDF files on completion via your SAO dashboard. You can simply download those and use them to apply to non-participating schools if the receiving schools do not have any objection.
What are Standard Application Online common forms?
- Parent Evaluation Form: A standard section containing personal development descriptors to be completed by the parent or guardian. Usually used for students applying to PK-Grade 5.
- Student Evaluation Form (typically used for grades PK-1): A standard recommendation form containing personal development descriptors and classroom readiness to be completed by a teacher at the current school.
- Student Evaluation Form (typically used for grades 2-5): A standard recommendation form containing personal development descriptors and classroom readiness to be completed by a teacher at the current school.
- Student Essay: A standard section containing 5 writing prompts to be completed by the student.
- Parent Statement: A standard section containing 4 writing prompts and student character skill descriptors to be completed by a parent or guardian.
- Personal Recommendation Form: A standard recommendation form to be completed by an adult familiar with the student outside of the classroom, in the areas of athletics, performing arts, or extracurricular interests
- English Recommendation Form: A standard recommendation form requesting information about the student’s English language knowledge, skills, and personal development to be completed by an English teacher at the current school.
- Math Recommendation Form: A standard recommendation form requesting information about the student’s mathematical knowledge, skills, and personal development to be completed by a mathematics teacher at the current school.
- Principal Recommendation Form: A standard recommendation form requesting information about the student’s overall academic background and personal development to be completed by a principal or guidance counselor at the current school.
- Official School Report and Transcript form: This is a standard form used by schools to collect information about an applicant's current/previous school academic performance. It includes instructions to upload official transcripts and school reports. It must be completed by a guidance counselor or school administrator. Most schools require 2 full years of transcripts as well as the most updated grades for the current year. Check all to request reports from one administrator, or select individual administrators for specific years.
- Any Teacher Recommendation: A standard recommendation form requesting information about the student’s subject knowledge, skills, and personal development to be completed by a teacher at the current school.
Student Application Dashboard
What is a School Supplement form?
The SAO provides schools with an option to include an additional online component that will include any information that is important to their application process. If a school requires a supplement form, you will see the requirement under that school’s card on your SAO dashboard.
How can I change my grade or the residential status I selected on a school application?
How do I use my dashboard to track the status of my application components?
Individual required components can be tracked via the statuses posted under each component name and the associated button.
How do I complete applications for multiple children?
My workstation indicates that my application is complete, but the school is telling me their portal does not show the completed status. What am I missing?
What is “Interests and Activities”?
What can I upload and/or showcase as part of my multimedia tab on the Student Profile?
Recommendations and Transcript Forms
The person I listed did not receive a link to provide the recommendations. What should I do?
I assigned my recommendation form incorrectly. How can I undo it?
How do I follow up on teacher recommendations?
How does a teacher submit a recommendation outside of the SAO system?
How do I request transcripts and school reports via the SAO system?
First, click on “Sign Release” so that your administrators know that you have authorized them to release your reports and transcripts through the SAO system.
Next, request specific year reports from your school administrators. Your school administrator/s will receive a link to upload the reports and transcripts in PDF. The SAO dashboard will reflect year specific completion and overall completion of the requirement.
What happens if my report cards don’t come in before my school's application deadline?
If in doubt, please contact the school directly.
Can I edit a form after submission?
Working with Advisors
Who can I designate as an advisor?
If you are working with a placement counselor at your current school/organization or with an educational consultant, you can choose them as an advisor on your application/s to allow them to assist you with managing and/or monitoring your applications. Your school, organization, or educational consultant must be a member of The Enrollment Management Association to be eligible to be added as an application advisor.
Please note, you can only have one advisor for all your applications for a session year.
What is an advisor’s role on my application?
Many placement offices and CBOs place their “Advisor Instructions” within the SAO. Those can be found to the right of your advisor school or organization's name on the SAO dashboard.
Can I change my advisor?
You can do so by clicking “Remove Advisor,” located to the right of the advisor name. Once you remove, the former advisor will no longer be able to track the progress of your application.
Payment and Submission
Can I edit my Student Profile after submitting an application to a school?
You can continue to edit and update your student profile via your account or the SAO dashboard. Please note that any changes made after a profile is submitted to a school will not be delivered to that school.
How can I receive application fee waivers?
You can request for an application fee waiver from the school to which you are applying. Unlike a test fee waiver, an application fee waiver will only waive an application fee for the school that issued it. It also waives the $6 SAO administrative fee.
What is the $6 administrative fee per application?
The administrative fee is a nominal fee charged for online processing of the SAO. If you receive an application fee waiver from a school, the administrative fee associated with that application will also be waived.
In case I submitted something by accident or I change my mind, what’s your refund policy for applications?
Because applications through the SAO system are delivered to schools in real time, we have a 24-hour refund policy for applications that may have been submitted by accident. Once an application is refunded, the school will no longer receive any updates on your application.
Please note, school application fees are fully refundable within the 24-hour time window, but the administrative fee is non-refundable.
Also, we cannot refund an application fee once it has been disbursed to a school. In that case, we advise you to contact the school directly to cancel your application and request a refund.
If I have components pending at the deadline, will the school still consider my application?
As a best practice, we highly recommend that you track the completion of your application and components against the school application deadline. However, each school may have unique completion criteria and flexibility to consider pending or in-progress applications. If in doubt, check with the school directly.
How do I pay for and submit my applications?
How do I send updates to my Student Profile after submission?
What happens if my profile is incomplete?
What if I have an issue with my credit card?